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tv   [untitled]    June 3, 2013 4:00am-4:31am PDT

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requirements for everyone in the state. not just locally. >> you know what? >> i think that i skipped ahead to number five. >> is there any empirical evidence that raising it to 1,000 would have offset the influence of the unregulated independent? >> i beg your par don. >> i was just talking about item five i am sorry for the confusion. >> i beg your par don. >> as to the justification for raising it, there may be one. but, the concept that it would offset the influence of unregulated independent expenditures, strikes me as probably not going to have a
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lid of difference on that. >> i think that if you raised the individual contribution limit with the expectation that it will allow a candidate to have greater leverage in answering independent expenditures, and i can see why someone would think that but conversely, independent expenditures might go ahead and increase as, you know, as a response. traditionally in san francisco. the feedback that we have gotten is people like the lower contribution limit and wish to stick to the $500, limit, and at one point, the commission decided to index that limit to inflation. and but in 100 increments, so in other words, if consumer price index went up a few percentages each year, the contribution limit in theory would be a few dollars more but we would not raise it until it hit that next 100 dollar mark. so it could be 6 or 10 years before it went from 500 to 600.
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however that was not adopted at the board so our current limit at 500. i think that there are a lot of folks that still support the 500 limit. and i think that there is a lot of candidates that would rather not see it. and certainly there is a lot of competition for political money in the city. but that is... you know, kind of an issue that, again, the commission and the board would have to decide what they think is best for this. >> what about the issue of right now it is $500 for all candidates. and there is a difference between city-wide offices and those who are just running for district election. the district supervisor. so, and it does seem, and i know that the interested party comments included the idea that
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perhaps city-wide office should get a higher contribution level than simply district offices. any feelings about that. la does differentiate between the two and the justification to follow. >> san francisco being a much, much smaller city, maybe it does not matter, i don't know. >> and any public comment on this matter? >> up to three times more, it
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seems that the contribution limit will have to change whether that is now or later. and relatively indifferent too it. >> i would certainly favor, uping the contribution limit. and i would also want to look at, a different contribution limit for city-wide office verses district. elections. >> i think that is a reasonable idea. because the district elections are very much smaller >> all right >> we can look at that. >> all right. >> item five.
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>> the one that you were talking about. >> excellent. >> and again, my apologies. you know that there are reasons to be concerned about effective uses of voter information and voter influence. and smaller amounts of money. but, again, the staff is looking at what is going on at the state and thinks that we should hold off on this at least until we see what the state does and if we are not satisfied with their changes, then we can go ahead and address these. >> and when do we think that the state is going to address these issues? >> or finalize them? >> possibly it is calendar year and if they don't maybe we will decide if we will take another
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look at them. >> public comment? >> if you are going to take up this issue that you do it promptly, because the difference between a $5,000 and $1,000 expenditure is considerable as you go into the november election and we have a lot of come pains that will spend a lot of money and spend it in segmented amounts so that if you have a contribution that went to political clubs, and at $1,000 each, you have 80 political clubs and you suddenly spent $80,000 and we would have no way of tracking that as long as the threshold is $1,000. >> you can blanket one district
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about 10,000 times for $1,000. with the e-mail alerts. that is a lot of out reach. certainly, a world of difference from when you do the door hangers or mail of that nature. would i suggest that you keep an eye on the election calendar as you address this issue. and i recommend that you deal with it in the next 60 days. >> should san francisco reduce the amount of time for which extensions of credit to a campaign are reclassified as contributions from the current 6 months to one month? >> this one is a fairly clear
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one and in the budget analyst report it states that in los angeles, the credits have to be satisfied within 30 days and they have since extended it from 30 to 60 days because they felt that the 30 days was not enough time for the campaigns to get all of their bills paid. so, although the staff is not sure that this, the emtipus behind this is great, if the commission wants to make these changes that the goods and services on credit have to be paid in full. we would recommend going to the 60-day, that los angeles has, rather than the 30 days that they used to have. but, right now, in san francisco, as i stated it is 180 days. >> and in order to be reclassification as a
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contribution. they need a lot of hand holding in getting the paperwork done and frequently it is quite beyond them and although, perhaps, mat jorty of the successful campaigns raise more money and a more professional staff and we need to think about all of the different types of campaigns that we deal with. >> well, i agree, with what you just said. just from my observations on the time that i have been on the commission, it does seem as if the smaller less experienced campaigns are the ones that really end up feeling the brunt of these regulations and
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reporting requirements. since they don't really know what they are doing and it is very complicated for anyone who does not have a lot of experience, that is not an excuse. nonetheless, it seems as if it is that end of the political campaigns where you see the most problems. >> and i apologize, if i misspoke. >> i said 60 days in la, it is 90 days in la. so la's current rule is 90 and ours is 180. >> i am just really like to understand how this operates. how a shorter period will be good for ethics enforced values? i just... i don't understand what advantage there is of a shorter time period. is it that things become
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clearer and closer to the time that it took place. >> they are approving the expenditures even when they are not paid. the concern is that there may be relationships between the campaign and vendors that you ultimately end up doing not extensions of credit as a business transaction, but extensions of credit as a favor to allow the campaign to use money that they owe for their bills for other things at least for a period of time. and that giving them 6 months to pay their bills allows them to go pass the election now and it is 180 days from the time that the expenses accrue and not the day of the election. >> got it. >> got it. >> so expenses accrued early have to be paid earlier than the expenses accrued later. but you could... >> you put your finger on my problem i thought it was election day and that left me.
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>> that helps. >> public comment? >> larry bush for friends of ethics. part of what prompted this is what exactly what mr. st. croix said is that the vendors floated loans to candidates and would later see if the candidates were going to be able to pay them back. they expected those candidates to win and when they won, to be able to lobby those candidates on behalf of the other clients and that became a standard way of doing business about ten years ago in this city. and it is less true today. but it was certainly prevalent at this time. you have people that you have never heard of in your life and suddenly had campaign consultants who were able to then raise the money to pay off the debts after they were in office as you can imagine. the desirability of contributing someone who is in
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office as opposed to someone who lost office is vastly different. >> and in this case, what you are really seeing is that within three months, they should be able to pay off, if it was a legitimate loan, you would look at the profession of whether or not it was after the election, the fact that it was the last ten or 20 days before the election is when the heaviest amount of spending goes on. that is when the loans begin to really accrue for the mail houses and for the tv ads and for the radio adds and all of the rest of it because the people get panicky and they want to spend a lot of money to get the message out and that is fair to say that is what they are going to do. to make sure that what is being done is that the vendors are paying for actual obligations and not because someone create aid mechanism to avoid having to raise the money at the time.
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>> additional public comment? >> commissioners? >> what is your... >> a shift to say 90 days, keep more of these kinds of transactions and clarify whether they are actually real expenses that will be paid or need to be reclassified? happened within the time that we can do the action and the reelection. >> it said that the 6 months just throws a higher proportion of them post election day. >> right. >> so, to a degree, yes. >> the staff... to the down side of 290? >> no. >> i mean, other than the burden on the candidates who don't have the sophisticated staff, and... >> right. >> you know, the associated
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with that costs. >> most of the costs is happening in the last 20 days of the election, whether it is 90 days or 180 days, that the candidate is going to be raising the money after the election to pay off the debt, i'm not sure that it would make that much of a difference. >> and i guess that to me as a concern would be more like if a lot of money was being loaned 30 days before, or 60 days before, or 90 days before, and then the candidate got election had the three months after to raise the money to pay that person back, i mean, that, that is problematic. but, if really the concern is over the money that is spent in the last 20 or 30 days i am not sure this really remedies the problems. >> i don't think that it will confer a rate benefit but it may a small benefit.
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>> so we will go ahead with that. >> and if we develop a proposal and then we will be able to hear idealy from smaller campaigns about whether this seems whether in that balance if this seems particularly stressful or difficult for them >> what do we do if it is not say, paid back in the 180 days or 90 days that it is paid back. and then it becomes a contribution. >> right. >> and if that contribution exceeds what the law allows, what do we do then? >> the excess contribution is forfeitable to the city. >> so if you have a printer's bill for $3,000 and you don't pay it in the deadline, it becomes a $2500 excess contribution. that has to be forfeited by the campaign to the city. >> and general fund. >> so they have to come up with
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the money they didn't have. to pay the bill with in the first place? >> i think that somebody has to bring a action to collect it? >> not in the excess contributions. >> it just happens automatically? >> yeah. >> if they didn't have enough to pay it off before where is he getting it from now? i mean, is there some violation that attaches to the candidate? there is not a punitive action against the contributor. >> how does this make any bit of difference? because if i loan, giving myself as a bad example. >> if a vendor loans a
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candidate $100,000 or there is $100,000 bill, and at the end of the day, the 90 or 100 days pass, and what the $500 is the contribution and the other $99,500 is... the vendor does not get that? >> the candidate is on the hook. >> the vendor has to be paid. but, under the scenario, they are not getting paid, they are making a contribution. if the vendor did not intend for this contribution to be a
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quick proquo thing, they could be for a large bill, they would be on the hook for it. >> i see. >> the vendor would be in a bad position. >> i got it. >> so we would assume that the vendor would be doing everything possible to get the candidate to pay the bill. >> right. >> it will be timely, and as they went along. or up front. >> if they are serious. >> yes. >> yes. >> if i might on this point, my understanding is that some vendors if they would like to float the credits are requiring to be paid above receipt of services so as not to be in this position and i would also just clarify a bit as to the question about whether you should get to the campaign, i thought that the language was that no, candidate or a campaign or no person may make
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a contribution and no candidate or campaign may accept or receive and if that language is there, then it is not just on the contributor or the vendor, or what becomes of the contributor in this scenario. but it is also on the campaign at that 90th day when it becomes a deemed contribution. so i think that you could actually get to the campaign, and find a violation. and not just a forfeit thank ... forfeit. i don't know, that would take a little research. thank you. >> does the commission want to consider a reduction to a
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90-day window? >> let's talk about the candidates with the less sophisticated reporting staff as to and do some analysis on what really the burden would be. >> did we talk to any at all? >> yeah. >> okay. >> and now, the last recommendation simply was, it is a discussion of enforcement and i would point to the memo that clarifies things because the budget analyst report, inadvently inflated the number of cases that los angeles settles because in talking about its actions that it would
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involve excess contributions specifically, they consider that enforcing manners and we don't. so looking at the number of enforcement cases, there is still a lot more cases in la, that are settled than in here not as much as the budget analyst report. ultimately too, we learned that the information that the budget analyst glean was from the website. they actually didn't talk to the la enforcement staff and we did. and in as a result of those contributions, or those conversations, it kind of difficult based on the way that la handles the enforcement matters in terms of settling or resolving them. and the way that we do to really detect what the actual differences is in the number of cases that are settled verses dismissed.
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and brought to hearings. obviously, the enforcement aspect of our work is something that has been under the microscope for a very long time and we dramatically improved the capabilities and the enforcement work and the way that we handle cases and i think that that, those efforts have or of really resulted in much better work by us and in this area. particularly with the current staff that we have. and it is something, of course like everything else we can find room for improvement and we are working on ways to continually improve. we could not move these particular matters in terms of excess contributions and forfeiting etc. into the enforcement area and that would actually improve our numbers and it would be artificial
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improvement. and so at this point, it is something that we could possibly do. that is not necessarily going to render great changes in the actual status quo. >> well, does the la have a different, statute that causes the excess contributions to be brought to the ethics commission as opposed to san francisco where you say that we don't do any enforcement action on excess contributions? >> i think that there are ordinances written differently and the enforcement writes, we do collect the... and we do enforce the ordinance that if you make excess contributions we do collect the forfeitures. >> we are responsible for collecting the forfeiture
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>> and it is more of a function of the auditers than of the enforcement staff. as well as the campaign finance obviously. >> public comment on the enforcement policies? >> larry bush from friends of ethics. i would like to make two recommendations from our group one is that when enforcement actions are referred to the ftpc and others and they do take action in cases involving san francisco entities that that information be included in the report so that the public can see what happened in the complaints are filed and that in fact they went on to another
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agency and were handled and what the results were. and so that is one thing that i think would build a little more confidence that there is not just no actions being taken in enforcement. i think that the second thing is that in some cases, contributions that are not allowable, are not being forfeited back to the city. last election the mayor's race, mayor lee returned a number of contributions to the donors but the city law is that he had to give those donations to the city not to the donor, like telling a bank robber, they come in and give the money back to the bank, instead of understanding that there was an enforcement issue that had to be done. i think that in the future, in the cases occur, that there needs to be a message from the ethics commission from the
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offending candidate that you owe that money to the city. and not to the donor. thank you. >> any other public comment? >> david pilpal and i have made previous comments about how to increase the transparency of the investigations and the complaints and the handling thereof kout compromising the investigation techniques or whatever and i am not going to repeat those tonight but the staff is aware and i think are trying to look at those and maybe implement some that don't require additional resources. and i also just want to make a general comment on this report. i think that doing things differently, with the existing resources is certainly something that we can do and look at and all of the things that you have talked about generally go in that direction but doing more and different things with the existing resources, is difficult, and i
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would suggest very strongly that if you are giving staff direction, on these points, that if any of these suggestions require additional staff or other resources, that that be highlighted and called out so those in this room or elsewhere who want to advocate for doing more should know that there is a price tag associated with that and advocate for additional resources to make those things happen. because otherwise, it is at the expense of something else that is likely just as worthy or perhaps more worthy. >> thanks. >> thank you. >> i appreciate that. >> additional public comment? >> go ahead commissioner? >> i was going to say that i think that last part was interesting, another option to your list, was that the commission could think about other things that we are doing and not within that same
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proposal. and balance the resource allocation, if there was something that we thought were worthy of it we could look outside of these elements to see how it compared to other activities to the extent that you know, the staff director helped us identify what people, what kinds of work might be able to support it. >> it was something that we are interested in doing, we could look at. how else we might trade off our priorities to accomplish it. >> excuse me, thank you. >> i have two comments, one, going to the commissioner studley, question, i think that the problem of going outside of this memo was other areas, and is because they are not listed on the agenda, we may, may have to put them down for a subsequent meeting. >> yeah. >> and for example, i do have
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something that the end one, we talk about the others, and the other possible things and i do have an item that i do want to add to bring up. but my original question was, addressed to the city attorney. is it right that what mr. bush said, that if there is a contribution made to a candidate when it becomes apparent that it was an improper contribution, either it was too much or it was solicited or that the employer gave the employee the money and the candidate just gives it back? or is he required to forfeit that to the city. >>vy to move my car and i just walked in and maybe my timing was just right. >> if a candidate has aced